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Monday 24th October 2016

US menus to list calories

29th August 2008

Food regulation in America has crossed another major threshold with restaurant chains now required to list the calorie content of the food they sell.


New York was the first US city to pass a law to this effect in January with others following since.

Many consumers have been underestimating the calories in the food they buy for some time.

Supporters of the initiative say the move helps, while companies complain about the commercial cost.

Other outlets fear they will have difficulty meeting the "patchwork of standards" from city, county and state, which will no doubt make California’s plan for state-wide legislation more workable to the chains.

The New York State Restaurant Association sued over the new regulations, claiming infringement of commercial freedom. A ruling is imminent.

The industry in general has opposed menu labelling legislation but it is too early to say how much of an impact it will have. However, one study indicated diners are now ordering food containing on average 52 fewer calories where information is prominently displayed.

Some companies may see the legislation as an opportunity to attract customers.

Starbucks has switched its default milk to reduced fat from full fat, Dunkin’ Donuts has a new lower-calorie line designed to appeal to the health-conscious while McDonald’s has reduced the size of a helping of french fries.

The bakery Le Pain Quotidien went one further and overhauled its menus to eliminate items with a lot of calories. So successful has the move been that it is now planning to introduce the changes in areas where it is now yet required by law.


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